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Beef industry reaches out to the millennial generation

By Doug Rich

The beef industry is learning how to reach out to the millennial generation. Michele Murray, NCBA director of integrated communications, said they will be reaching out to this connected generation through Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media outlets. (Journal photo by Doug Rich.)

The millennial generation is described as those born between 1980 and 2000. The Beef Checkoff describes them as the next generation of beef eaters.

Michele Murray, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association director of integrated communications, explained how NCBA is reaching out to this unique market during the consumer trends forum at the Kansas Livestock Association convention and trade show Dec. 4 to 6 in Wichita, Kan.

Murray said there were two driving forces behind the Beef Checkoff decision to change direction. The first was the digital explosion and how it changes the way people access information. The second driving force was the influence of the millennial generation. There are 80 million people in this generation, which includes people from the ages of 13 to 33.

“Millennials will outspend boomers in the next five years,” Murray said. “In the next five years they will start families and will start setting traditions, and we want beef to be part of those moments. This led us to creating a new communications model for beef.”

The Internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest are creating a cultural shift in the way people gather information and share media. Murray said the first thing that millennials do when they find out about an issue or a big worldwide event is go to their phones.

“We are not turning on the TV the way we used to and that will influence how we gather and share our information with others,” Murray said. “Storytelling is going to be a major goal for us in terms of how we deliver information.”

The beef industry needs to find ways to reach millennials in a digital society. One way is by using search engine optimization to make sure that when consumers type “beef” into the Google search box, they get a positive message about beef consumption. Murray said it is important to use the same language that consumers are using.

“What sets millennials apart from boomers is that they are online constantly,” Murray said. “They are engaging with each other in a way we have never seen a generation engage before. They are always connected.”

Millennials are a generation that will not be patient with the problems beef products sometimes give them, according to Murray, such as knowing how to prepare a certain cut of meat or understanding what happens on the farm where the beef is produced. They will make decisions based on what their friends on Facebook or social media are saying about these issues.

Murray said the focus is on the older millennial parent between the ages of 25 and 34. Consumers and millennials in this age group love beef. When they become parents health becomes a major concern.

“We are focused on those millennials who are settling down, graduating from college, buying their first home, and having children,” Murray said.

This group loves the taste of beef but not the traditional meat-and-potatoes experience familiar to the boomer generation. Murray said they like beef with a salad or beef with an Asian flavor or new kind of spice.

“They want something that will allow them to sit down with family and friends and really enjoy a moment together,” Murray said.

Murray said their communications model for reaching the older millennials begins by creating content, followed by building advocates, and finishes by generating visibility. The Beef Checkoff officials looked at everything they are doing to market beef and decided what they should continue doing, what they should stop doing, and what they should do differently to promote beef to this connected generation of consumers. One of the things they did was shift their advertising campaigns from print and radio to digital platforms so beef is there when people pick up their phone and are trying to figure out what is for dinner. The Beef Checkoff also switched to a new advertising agency that focuses on digital campaigns. Murray said they would be using communication practices like push technology to reach out to consumers with text messages, online commercials, and social media analysis.

Beef is still what’s for dinner but the message will be delivered to the millennial generation in new ways.

Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by email at richhpj@aol.com.

Date: 12/23/2013

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